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Residential Property Renovation

Property Renovationis one of the most rewarding experiences a home owner can undertake, yet more often than not the process is extremely stressful for the home-owners. So why do thousands of Kiwis undertake residential property renovation projects each year?

In a recession many people either cannot afford to move to a larger property, or are in a negative equity situation, where they owe more money than their house is currently worth. Others may have simply outgrown their current house but don't want to move away from a great neighbourhood, schools and friends.

More and more people are making do with the home they have, and renovation has become an increasingly desirable alternative to selling up and moving home. Renovating your property can not only improve the way you live in and enjoy your home but if done right it can also add value and increase your home's future selling potential.

Renovating to add value

Typical residential property renovations that will add value to your home include:

  • Laying new flooring
  • Replacing the kitchen and bathrooms
  • Installing double-glazed windows
  • Converting unused space (e.g. loft, garage)
  • Extending your property

Not all renovations will improve your property's value – over-extending, removing important features or adding awkward or small rooms could actually reduce the value of your property. Renovate to suit the property - large kitchens and additional bathrooms in family-sized homes are more likely to add value, as would adding a garage or off-street parking to a property in a busy, urban area.

If you are extending, try to ensure the addition matches the architectural style of the existing house. Adding a modern extension can look good on an old property, but it may be difficult to sell if it doesn't appeal to your target market. Similarly, ensure your renovation will appeal to the tastes of the average buyer if you are planning to sell in the future. Faux Tudor beams might be to your taste but they are not everyone's cup of tea. Décor can easily be changed but structural features are costly to put right.

Renovating to sell

If you are renovating to sell, you may be able to do a relatively inexpensive makeover to freshen up the property and make it more attractive to buyers. However, don't invest money that you won't get back when you sell the property. Check the current value, ask a realtor how much they think the home would be worth if it was renovated and what type of renovations they would recommend to get the most bang for your buck. A reputable estate agent should know their marketplace and be able to offer you helpful advice.

Typical 'makeover' renovation projects:

  • Lay new flooring
  • Paint kitchen cabinets and change handles
  • Replace aged worktops/sink/taps etc
  • Repaint key rooms (kitchen, bathroom, living room, master bedroom)
  • Fix broken fittings and fixtures
  • Tidy up the garden and add a deck

Keep the decor fairly neutral so it appeals to the maximum number of people, and style the rooms with the target market in mind. For example, a dining room in a family sized home will probably be in more demand than an office, and all bedrooms should be set up as such. Parents with larger families might appreciate an en-suite bathroom in addition to the family bathroom so they can escape the chaos and relax. In a smaller property appealing to young professional couples, a home office might be more in demand than a third bedroom or dining room.

Renovating to improve your home

If you are planning on renovating to improve your home or extend it to make room for a growing family the type of renovations you're likely to undertake will probably differ somewhat from renovating to make a profit. You may find increasing the value of your home is less important, but you should at least ensure the renovation doesn't cost more than you can recover if you do end up having to sell the property.

Renovating a property you intend to live in will be more emotionally challenging but it can be a lot more fun picking out details and décor that you are going to enjoy yourself. Making your home work better for your needs can be almost like moving to a brand new house and will give you a lot of satisfaction.

Renovation budget

When it comes to budget, it depends on the size of the project and what changes are being made. Changing some of the fixtures and fittings can be very cost effective and you may be able to tackle some of this yourself to keep costs down. However, making structural changes can cost tens of thousands of dollars and will require specialist trades-people. Ensure you know what your budget is and how much your property is currently worth and likely to be worth after renovating before making any plans.

If you're planning a big project, it's wise to use professional contractors and a qualified project manager to ensure the renovation runs to time and budget. If you have no experience, trying to do these things yourself could result in a poor renovation or completely blow your budget. Ask friends and colleagues for their recommendations in order to find a good contractor, otherwise, ask the prospective contractors for details of their last few clients and call 2-3 to find out whether their project went well and whether they would recommend them to someone else.

If you are looking to move, the NZ Realtors Network has extensive listings of residential properties for sale throughout New Zealand.

Expert residential property renovation advice from the NZ Realtors Network.

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